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Friday, May 25, 2007

Florida Birds on the Highway

I was traveling down I-75 deeper into Florida when this guy flicked me off. Now, it was not the forceful, vigilante finger that constitutes revenge or a barbaric rage. I did nothing to merit his middle finger. He was only passing by me in the right lane…and I simply looked over that’s all. Nor was it the mischievous birdie that redneck friends will exchange each other at bowling alleys. Nope, it was only the most casual, relaxed signal of proud contempt that was confined into that flick. He was sitting shotgun while his girlfriend was driving, his barefeet stretched out the passenger window. His arm was hanging casually out the window when he looked over at me and so imperceptibly, shot me that bird. It was more of a hummingbird than a hawk. It was almost as though he wanted to flick me off but didn’t think I was worth the effort to sit up and give me a full-finger salute. And nothing can be more offensive. Or maybe he was trying to hide his offense from his girlfriend or sister (or both; whoever she was.)

Well my reaction, is what was going to determine the entire scene. I did not flick him back off. I did not mouth expletives at him either. In those few seconds when the ire of a man flickers and he must do something, I decided to turn the other cheek by allowing him to have access to another angle at flicking me off….from my rear view mirror…that is when I cut their car off. Suffice it to say that in no way am I a proper example for taking insults. I admit, I am too insecure, too immature for this ideal. I have a streak of revenge in me that can get me riled up. Now, I was not exploding in rage. No, I just gritted my teeth and pressed my foot down on the gas, muttering, “Flick me off for no reason? I’ll show you.” And swerved completely in front of them, almost clipping their right headlight.

This sent the laid-back cool guy into a volcano of angry motions. He was then sitting up fully in his seat giving me the real traffic type of birds…from both hands as he flung them convulsively in the air and shouted, hoping that maybe miraculously I could hear all the curses he hurled at me. I just grinned back at him through my mirrors. I was singing along to Dwight Yoakam, even dancing a little bit. He didn’t like this at all. They tried speeding up to me but I wouldn’t let them. I didn’t want to get another, this time wrathful finger in my face. Unfortunately, the highway was a 3 laner. If there were only 2 lanes I would have boxed him in real good. We were both driving pretty fast now. Passing cars to the right. About the time that he was about to pass me on the right, I would make it to one of these slower cars and ride neck and neck with them. This would have blocked him from passing at all and would have really ticked him off. But there was a 3rd lane that left them free to get around. But by the time the driver (the girl) realized the open lane was there and was cutting right toward it, I would have already cut around the middle, noninvolved car and came to cut in front of them on that far right lane as well.

This sent that man ape-crazy. He bound up this bandana around his fist and motioned to me that he was going to beat me up. I just laughed and continued to sing with Dwight. For maybe 15 minutes this whole ordeal lasted. They chasing me around other cars, and me always weaving in front of them again and again. I finally let them in front, though I knew it probably wasn’t a good idea. They passed and there he sat gesticulating all his hatred at me. Then he threw something at my car. He missed. I don’t think it was anything solid either. He probably lacked the sense to throw something hard, and picked up a paper wrapper. There are ways to infuriate these people more and its not in indulging in the same type of offensive attacks that they do. It’s more fun than that. I just pointed at him and starting laughing hysterically. Nothing can stab an angry man more. I was letting him know that I was not at all threatened and that he was a joke. This produced all types of venting on his part. And again the car weaving started again. Then finally the guy had to use his last weapon. As he was passing again, his head went down and his rear end went up and his britches dropped down. He stuck his butt out the window, mooning not only me but everyone around. There are such times when I knew I should always carry a BB gun or slingshot in my car with me. So, I had nothing to do but to take his ass-show performed before the Florida sunshine and the trucker in front of us. The disappointing fact was that he knew that I was powerless and that I could do nothing back. Being the driver, I could not return the moon, unless I was a very dexterous driver. Such a feat could probably be only performed by certain avant-garde circus performers. And I was no where near that level of driving. Maybe one day. Instead, I took a sheet of paper (actually my company’s catalogue) and pen and wrote on the back of it in big bold lettering, “IS THAT YOUR FACE!?” Then sped up and slapped it onto my drivers window as I passed. He nodded back “yeah” with a grin and the whole incident was over. Apparently, all that guy’s fury was relieved as soon as he undid his belt. Maybe he just needed some air back there.

Somewhere north of Orlando, in Leesburg, after I got off the interstate, my car battery went dead. -Too much activity for it in one day. It took me awhile for the emergency roadside aid to arrive and jump me off and then I went and bought a whole new battery. …..Florida, I was in the land of splattered bugs on the windshield and orange juice. My mission from my boss was very vague. “Just stick your head in the door in the stores down there.” Sounds like the best company trip to Florida a guy could have. The next day…well, that was a whole another day and a new adventure…that tops this story by a landslide and will probably be considered one of the craziest things I’ve ever tried to do. So stay tuned.


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